Grand Opening of Rock River Trail set for June 3

After many years of planning and preparing, the grand opening of the Rock River Trail will be celebrated on Saturday, June 3, 2017, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m., at the Rotary River Center, 1160 S Riverside Drive, Beloit, Wis.  Grand opening events and activities will be held in both Beloit and South Beloit, Ill. and other river communities. The grand opening date coincides with National Trail Day.  Beloit was selected for the grand opening location because it is located at the halfway point of the 320 mile trail.

The Rock River Trail starts in Horicon, Wisconsin and ends where the Rock River flows into the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois.  The Rock River Trail goes through two states (Wisconsin and Illinois) and travels through 11 counties and encompasses 41 communities.

The Rock River Trail Initiative was established seven years ago to create a system of recreational trails encompassing the Rock River in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Today the Rock River Water Trail is recognized as a National Water Trail by the National Park Service.  But, it’s much more than a water trail and offers many ways to experience and discover the Rock River and its river communities.  The Rock River Trail offers a scenic and historic road route for touring the river corridor by car or motorcycle. Also available are designated routes for biking, hiking and horseback riding, and an air route that links the ten airports along the river in both states.  Recent additions to the trail include an online map of historic sites, a brochure titled The Art Route of the Rock River Trail, and the Rock River Chocolate Trail offers a delicious way to enjoy the trail. Details on all elements of the Rock River Trail are available at

To encourage exploration along the trail, the Rock River Trail Initiative has established a 320-Mile Award for those individuals who reach the goal of doing the whole 320 miles of the Rock River Trail, whether it’s hiking, biking, paddling or driving. The miles can be accumulated over any period of time, and can be broken up in any segments.  Participants keep their own records and self-report their accomplishment to receive their award patch.  Five paddlers will be awarded their 320-Mile patches at the grand opening ceremony.

To commemorate the grand opening of the Rock River Trail, Gary Meier and Perry Folts of Beloit, Wisconsin, will launch on June 3 from Beloit on a kayak journey to the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois. The 163 mile journey will take about 7 days with overnight stops at camping areas that have been established along the water trail.

The public is invited to the Rotary River Center in Beloit on June 3rd for the “cutting of the ribbon” to officially open the Rock River Trail and can participate in one of the many trail activities happening before  and after the ceremony.  All events are free unless otherwise indicated.

 Grand Opening Schedule

  • 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Fly- In/Drive-In Pancake Breakfast at Beloit Airport hosted by EAA Chapter 60. Enjoy a pancake breakfast and view classic cars and airplanes, $7.
  • 9:00 a.m. – Community Bicycle Ride hosted by the Stateline Spinners and other area riding groups from Beloit Airport to Rotary River Center. Riders will travel 5 miles as a group into Beloit, averaging about 10 mph. Open to all adult riders.
  • 9:00 a.m. – Community Flotilla paddle to the grand opening ceremony, launching from Armstrong Eddy Park. Must provide own kayak/canoe.
  • 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Fur Trader re-enactor and voyager canoe exhibit
  • 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – booths and displays by Visit Beloit, Friends of RiverFront, Sky Dive the Rock, Rock River Trail Initiative
  • 9:30 a.m. – Horse Trail Ride at Happy Hollow Park by Rock County Multi-Use Trail Group. (note: this is a horse owner’s trail ride; horse rides are not available to the public.)
  • 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Grand Opening ceremony and ribbon cutting with special speakers.
  • 11:00 a.m. – Riverwalk Stroll – Rock Trail Coalition will lead a 2.5 mile walk on Beloit’s Riverwalk
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kayak Camping & Packing for An Overnight Trip, a seminar by Rocktown Adventures
  • 11:30 a.m. – Tales from the Trail: Q&A session featuring Rock River Trail 320-Mile paddlers
  • 1:30 p.m. Fur Traders River Run guided paddle trip by Rocktown Adventures launching at Nature At The Confluence in South Beloit. $50 with kayak rental, or free with you own boat and transportation.  Pre-registration required.

Other events will be held in river communities along the trail.